Academy Award winning director Juan José Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) has gone into production in Mexico on the first title from ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) for Paramount Plus, “Los Enviados,” an eight-part series action thriller about “two men searching for their souls,” the director told Variety.
VIS has shared in exclusivity with Variety some first photos from the shoot.
First fruit of a first look deal between VIS and Campanella, “Los Enviados” has also added to key cast Irene Azuela, star of Mexican movies such as “Miss Bala” and “The Obscure Spring,” as well as Netflix series “Monarca.”
Azuela joins two of the Spanish-world’s biggest names, Luis Gerardo Méndez, an actor with a rich comedic vein, exploited in Netflix soccer club comedy “Club de Cuervos,” and Miguel Angel Silvestre. A sex symbol thanks to his breakout role as El Duque in “Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso,” Sylvestre presented his credentials as a character actor with performances in shows such as “En el Corredor de la Muerte.”
In “Los Enviados,” a Paramount Plus original, Silvestre and Méndez play two priests from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith who are sent as envoys to Mexico. There they must verify the allegedly miracle healing of another priest, who has disappeared.
When they discover a psychiatric community on the outskirts of town that seems to hide more than one secret regarding the miracles and the priest’s disappearance, their lives, as well as their faith, will be pushed to the limit, the series’ synopsis runs.
In the ultimate analysis, Campanella said, the series will turn on “two men searching for their souls.”
In “Los Enviados,” Campanella will blend genres, as in many of his works, here mixing “suspense and genre – including thriller, mystic and comedic beats – with human stories and the dilemmas the priests suffer regarding themselves, society and faith,” Campanella said.
The idea, he added, is to launch a series franchise, with each season of the series taking place in a different country.
“Los Enviados” will drill down on local color, Campanella added. “Emotions and human relations are universal, the same. What’s different is local color, and it’s beautiful to yoke local color – what the town looks like, what they eat – with universal emotion,” Campanella said.
First look deals with production-distribution players such as VIS allow major talent a powerful distribution reach as well as financing to make titles at a level required by their artistic ambitions.
“As a director, I always ask for time. I always say that my tombstone will read: ‘I just needed two more weeks,’” Campanella joked.
“In my case, however, I’ve found a kind of soul mate in [VIS and ViacomCBS Americas president] J.C. Acosta. We share the same ambitions regarding the quality we want to bring to projects,” he added.
Latin American series budgets are often very low. “Los Enviados” in contrast will shoot on a “very good” budget. Meticulous pre-production and top-notch key craftsmen also mitigate against the tight shooting schedules of TV shows, Campanella added.
“Los Enviados” will premiere in Latin America later in 2021 on ViacomCBS new premium streaming service Paramount Plus.